Travel Startup Duffel Raises USD$21.5m (£17.1m); Vivobarefoot Launches New Shoe Made From 30% Bio-Based Materials

Duffel

DTC’s Daily Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands. In today’s edition: Travel startup Duffel raises USD$21.5m (£17.1m); Vivobarefoot launches new shoe made from 30% plus bio-based materials; and Amazon shutters Spark, replaces it with #FoundItOnAmazon.

Travel startup Duffel raises USD$21.5m (£17.1m)

Duffel, a London-based travel startup which is still in stealth, has raised USD$21.5M (£17.1m) in its most recent funding round, led by venture capital firm Benchmark. Blossom Capital and Index Ventures, who participated in last year’s USD$4.7m (£3.75m) seed fund, have also contributed to the latest round.

The announcement also conveys further detail on Duffel’s offering, which has remained somewhat of a mystery up to this point. Initially the firm will be focusing on the B2B end of the travel industry, and will aim to improve customer experience by overhauling outdated infrastructure.

Steve Domin, co-founder and CEO of Duffel, has stated: “The travel industry is underpinned by archaic software and processes that are fundamentally prohibitive for the modern day traveler. We are reinventing the underwiring between online agents and the providers – airlines, hotels, transport operators – in much the same way that the payments world is changing for merchants, because of tools like Adyen and Stripe.”

Duffel is expected to be launched in Autumn this year.

Vivobarefoot launches new shoe made from 30% plus bio-based materials

Vivobarefoot

UK-based ‘minimalist footwear’ company Vivobarefoot has launched a new shoe, the Primus Lite II Bio, comprised of more than 30% renewable plant-based materials, including field corn, natural rubber and algae. The new training shoe was produced in conjunction with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products. The company aims to produce its range of training shoes sandals, and hiking boots, using 100% sustainable material by the year 2021.

Asher Clark, Design Director at Vivobarefoot has said: “The launch of the Primus Lite Bio represents an exciting step away from the industry’s reliance on single use petroleum-based materials and towards a promising future of plant-based alternatives. We want to challenge the world’s relationship with shoes, the materials they are made from and the impact they are having on us and our environment. Our ultimate goal is complete circularity.”

Founded in 1997, Vivobarefoot has grown substantially since a £1.31m crowdfunding round, completed in March 2016.

Amazon shutters Spark, replaces it with #FoundItOnAmazon

Amazon

Amazon has shut down Spark, its Instagram-style platform. The service was launched in 2017, however it failed to gain much traction, with the blame being laid upon its heavy focus on e-commerce over social engagement. Adding Spark options to the Amazon menu has also been criticised for making the options look too cluttered.

However the project has not been entirely shelved, as a new service, #FoundItOnAmazon, has been created. The new iteration closely mimics a more successful product discovery tool from the e-commerce giant: Interesting Finds. However #FoundItOnAmazon will focus on the home décor and fashion niches, rather than across the full range of products sold on Amazon.

Explaining the decision to shutter Spark, an Amazon spokesperson has said: “We have pivoted and narrowed the experience based on what resonated with customers.” When addressing the name change, they stated: “We have changed the name to #FoundItOnAmazon to reflect the tag that influencers are using on social media to share their great finds with others.”